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MC10 Stretch Sensor  (Source: John Rodgers - Technology Review)
Reebok and partner MC10 expect products to hit market in next two years

Flexible electronics hold promise for many areas that today's circuitry can't reliably fulfill. Flexible electronics will allow chips to be sewn into clothing and could measure vital statistics and information on people (like hospital patients).

Typically when we think of wearable sensors that can be inside of clothing, sick people in beds at a hospital come to mind for most. Reebok has a different vision for flexible electronics though and that vision involves monitoring the performance of athletes while they are playing sports or being rehabilitated after an injury.

Reebok has teamed up with MC10, which is a start up firm that makes flexible electronics. MC10 and Reebok are mum on exactly what they are working on together, but a MC10 representative did offer a little hint stating the goal is to make the interface between people and electronics disappear. Today if someone that is working out at the gym wants to measure their heart rate they often need a strap around their chest and a watch or other receiver to pick the data up from the wireless sensor.

Reebok and MC10 envision a future where a sensor can be placed on a flexible silicon circuit that is sewn into clothing and has transistors on it to process the information it receives without needing an external box or processor. Once the data was processed, it could be shot to another device or to a remote monitoring station.

The flexible nature of the circuits would conform to the user's body and the tight conformation to the user's body would allow the sensors to get more accurate signals. The two firms foresee the sensors being used to monitor an athlete's health, strain on joints, heart rate, blood pressure, and other factors. MC10 thinks that products using its flexible sensors will be on the market within two years.

The U.S. military is also looking at flexible sensors that can be mounted inside helmets and other military clothing to measure the forces placed on a soldier. Eventually, the tech may lead to a sensor or sticker that changes color based on the severity of an explosion will help treatment in the field.



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